Arsenal sack Emery: Gunners must make 'adventurous' appointment after missing out on Mourinho

By Sports Desk November 29, 2019

Arsenal must be bold when it comes to appointing a replacement for Unai Emery after missing out on preferred candidate Jose Mourinho, according to former striker Alan Smith.

Freddie Ljungberg has been placed in interim charge of the first team after Emery was sacked the day after the Gunners lost 2-1 at home to Eintracht Frankfurt in the Europa League.

Favourites to take the permanent job include former Juventus boss Massimiliano Allegri, Napoli coach Carlo Ancelotti and Wolves' Nuno Espirito Santo.

Former Arsenal players including Mikel Arteta and Patrick Vieira have also been mooted as possible successors to Emery, who managed only one win in his final nine matches in charge.

Smith, twice a league champion with Arsenal, thinks the board should look to younger names such as RB Leipzig's Julian Nagelsmann, especially with rivals Tottenham having taken Mourinho off the market this month.

"I had heard [Arsenal wanted Mourinho] and Tottenham got their act in gear knowing Arsenal were interested. They managed to tie up Mourinho before their London rivals could do so," Smith said on Sky Sports.

"It's the biggest club in London, in my book, in terms of the history, the silverware. They should be able to attract - and I'm sure they can attract - a top manager.

"Allegri has got a wonderful track record with Juventus, but do you go for somebody experienced like that, an old head, or somebody a bit younger?

"Mikel Arteta very nearly got the job last time out; I know Guardiola thinks the world of him as a coach as Manchester City. I'd probably like to see that younger type of coach being brought in, people like Julian Nagelsmann at Leipzig, a very talented young man. Whether they'd be able to prise him away from Leipzig is another matter.

"I'd like them to be adventurous, a bit more daring than just going for somebody tried and tested."

Smith believes the 2-1 loss to Frankfurt was Arsenal's worst display of 2019-20 and showed the players were unable to follow Emery's instructions.

"It was their worst performance of the season and the bar hadn't been set very high," he said. "I say well done to the Arsenal board for acting decisively.

"When they gave a vote of confidence after the Leicester City game, I just wondered why. The move had to be made.

"It's a sad day because you never like to see upheaval - I certainly don't at my old club. You want to see success. But for things to get better, I think they had to make a change.

"It's been difficult for Emery. He's involved in very long team meetings, one, two hours, and when you can't speak English fluently and your message is a little garbled, players switch off, pure and simple. Over time, you tend to lose a little bit of respect for the manager's work. When that happens, it's a hopeless situation.

"It's got worse this season than it was last. There were some good moments to remember in some of the big games: Tottenham, Liverpool, Manchester United. There seemed to be a bit more fight and togetherness in the ranks.

"That all seems to have dissipated to the point where, last night, I'm looking at him on the line and he's incapable really of changing things. The players don't appear, from my angle, to be taking too much notice of the manager. You can't allow that to continue."

Arsenal have conceded 70 Premier League goals in 51 games under Emery – more than any other 'big six' club in the Premier League since the start of 2018-19 – and Smith thinks the defence will be the first priority for the new boss.

"I think it's a similar situation to Spurs and Mourinho in that you're coming into a club that's got good players," he said.

"It's easy to forget that there are a number of very good players at Arsenal. Obviously, the boys in attack, [Alexandre] Lacazette and [Pierre-Emerick] Aubameyang, and there are some good young lads coming through that can be developed.

"Given the right manager, I think that defence can be organised much, much better than it has been, along with the midfield protecting that defence. It's about working on that. We thought that would happen when Arsene Wenger left the club and Emery came in.

"We thought there would be a lot more discipline in the shape of the team. If they can achieve that, you'd fancy that they'll always score goals. It's that basic organisation you're looking for."

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